Ask The Expert

Hi Robert,

Periodically I’ll have guests in the house and the toilet will back up. I hear there is some kind of a snake you can use in a toilet? I use the plunger and sometimes I work and work and it takes forever to get the toilet unclogged.

Beth E.

Hi Beth,

Don’t use an electric snake because it will damage the porcelain bowl. There are times we do need to use a snake, for example when there are roots in the line, but we will first remove the toilet then reset. For many clogs, you can leave the toilet in place and use a toilet auger.

Makes sure the end of the auger goes all the way in and the rubber portion is the only part touching the porcelain. Time and time again I have seen a toilet that is scoffed and damaged. That’s due to either someone using a snake through the toilet, or using an auger incorrectly.

Pull the handle all the way out and stick the auger in. Then start cranking. Don’t take the cable and run it up against the toilet because this will scratch the bottom of the bowl. As far as I’m concerned, this is a great tool and every house should have one.

Hi Robert,

How difficult is it to install a skylight?

Thanks,
Bruce T.

Hi Bruce,

As long as you’re not getting into the structural aspect of the roof and you have carpenter skills and understand waterproofing, you shouldn’t have a problem. If not, or if you don’t feel comfortable in cutting a hole through the roof, then hire a contractor.

Basically all you’re doing is building up a curb in order to accept the skylight. The minimum I would use would be 2” x 6”. Anything less than that, like a 2” x 4” will leak the minute there is a wind driven rain.

Cut your roof open, build the curb. It is imperative that you use flashing. A lot of guys will take roofing tiles and roll them over. This is the worst thing you can do. It has to be built up with flashing.

After you build the curb, counter flash the leading edge with flashing material so when the water hits, it is deflected and is pushed away.

The paper goes right up on top of the flashing. Your shingles go over that. The flashing is your water barrier.

When you set your skylight, be sure and seal it to keep the wind out. You don’t want the dust blowing up inside your house. For this, get a Styrofoam sealant and put it on top of the curb. This is almost like a weather stripping that you see around a door, then set your skylight on top of that.

On the inside you have to drywall the inside of this box, the chase, to give it a finished look.

Also, it’s important to use security screws. If somebody gets on top of your roof, they unscrew four screws and they are in your house. They take what they want and then walk out the front door. If you use security screws, they have to break the skylight to get in because burglars probably don’t carry security screwdrivers.

If you have a security system in your home, be sure and contact the company to monitor that opening also. That’s a real easy way to get into your house.

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